The fitness industry runs on a simple frame: transformation.
There’s “before” and there’s “after,” with some sets, reps, and macronutrient ratios in between.
But what comes after the “after”?
In the case of BJ Gaddour, a longtime acquaintance and the former face and body of the Men’s Health brand, it was a withering barrage of criticism and body shaming.
Never mind that he was objectively jacked, or that he obviously knew what he was talking about. Online commenters still took it upon themselves to enforce a level of perfectionism in free content that doesn’t exist in real life. If DC Comics created a CGI human from one of its superheroes, these guys would find a flaw in his lower abs or rear delts.
As Gaddour explains in this video, he couldn’t brush the criticism off, regardless of how absurd it was, or how hard he tried. “I was told daily how ugly I was, how big my nose is, that I needed to fix my teeth, that my calves sucked,” he wrote on Instagram. (He concedes the point about his calves.)
No matter how much or how hard he trained, or how strictly he dieted, he couldn’t stop the criticism, and he couldn’t keep it from opening up the scars he still carried from his days as a fat kid.
Gaddour concludes his video with this simple advice for anyone, in or out of the fitness industry, who’s regularly judged on the basis of their appearance:
“Don’t ever put yourself in a situation where your success or your relevance is based on the way you look. Because no matter how good you look or how in shape you are, they’ll find weaknesses, and they will harp on them, and they will bring them to the world’s attention. That’s just part of the game.”
What truly matters, he says, is what we contribute to the world, not how we look when we’re doing it.
WATCH BJ GADDOUR’S VIDEO BELOW: